Anar: Terenure

Great staff, disappointing food

Mon, Sep 2, 2013, 15:18



  • Terenure Dublin 6, Co. Dublin, Ireland
  • (01) 4920050
  • Middle Eastern

Terenure is starting to feel more villagey. It’s no mean feat for a place whose heart is a traffic-choked crossroads in Dublin. An d it’s thanks to a strip of small independent restaurants on one leg of the crossroads. Night time food smells waft where once there was a row of darkened shops and offices.

People who want to stroll to a neighbourhood restaurant now have choices. It’s not Ranelagh. But it’s a start.

Anar is a new Persian restaurant beside Terenure stalwart Mario’s. It’s a smart, box-fresh place with great friendly staff and a lovely Saturday night buzz on a freezing dark night. Sadly it goes down in this column’s history as the briefest meal ever. It takes just over an hour to slide from cheerfully good, through mediocre and memorably awful, to the point where we can’t face dessert.

It all starts pretty well. A takeaway menu, which I nab on the way in, is identical to the restaurant menu, including the prices. There is no incentive to take your food home and plenty of reason to stay.

Velvet banquettes have elaborate curved backs which peak in large satin circles. There’s a bare brick wall, closely spaced dark wood tables and floor.

Along with salt and pepper there’s a shaker filled with sumac, that trendy middle-eastern spice that augers well for what’s to come.

A mixed platter on a timber lazy-susan consists of four bowls surrounding a small pile of flatbread cut into triangles. The Kask E-Bademjoon is a fried aubergine dish mixed with kask, which is whey, fried onion, garlic and mint. It sounds delicious but tastes muddy. The fried onions add a second similar layer of meaty flavour to the aubergine and there’s no discernible taste of mint to lift the overall brownness of it all.

A salad Olivieh tastes like a picnic potato salad or a portion of baby food. It’s a pre-prepped bowl with a solid cheese-like texture, made from shredded chicken mixed with potato, gherkins, eggs and mayonnaise.

There’s a grainy hummus, which I like. But it’s let down by bitter pre-stoned olives on the top. Finally there’s a yoghurt and cucumber dip (Mast-o-Khiar) which is the best thing on the platter because, mixed with the aubergine, it gives it the tangy lift it needs.

My main course is the lowest point. If food tastes delicious I’m not particularly worried how it looks. But the Fesenjoon stew that arrives to the table has to be the least attractive dish I’ve seen in a long time. There are two bowls, one with rice, the other with what looks like a chocolate brown soup. There are mini meatballs settled at the bottom of the bowl and the sauce (described on the menu as fried walnut, olive oil with pomegranate sauce) i s tooth- achingly sweet.

So here we have balls of boiled minced meat drenched in a cloying brown soup. Any walnuts have been blended into crumbs and lost all their flavour to the fruity excesses of the pomegranate sauce. There’s a Friends episode where Rachel puts a layer of minced beef in a trifle. I think this must be how it tasted.

Liam’s lamb dish from the grill, a Soltani (¤21.50), is a strip of marinated lamb and a skewer of minced lamb with rice and grilled tomatoes. The skin of the tomatoes has been charred on the bottom, which has done nothing to enhance them. If the lamb fillet has been marinated, it’s managed to hold none of the flavour. It’s a deeply ordinary dish.

Anar is well-run and a lot of thought and work has gone into it. It’s just a shame that the food (which is not cheap) struggles to reach a standard that’s any better than an average takeaway. Dinner for two with two glasses of house wine came to ¤62.

THE VERDICT: A nice space and great staff let down by what's on the plate
Music: Middle-eastern soundtrack
Facilities: Upstairs with piped music
Food provenance: None
Wheelchair access: Yes, but bathrooms upstairs

Anar, 101 Terenure Road East, Terenure Dublin 6, tel: 01- 4920050